TSA Employees Are so Over-Surveilled That They Can’t Do Their Jobs

Oct 17, 2018

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Oh, the irony.

It seems that some of the only people in the world who can legally search through your belongings, view your body through an X-ray machine and essentially pat you down in public are experiencing some privacy issues themselves. An employee of the Transportation Security Administration, Jason Edward Harrington, recently came forward to The Atlantic and discussed how the micromanagement of some higher-ups affects worker efficiency on the job.

Employee surveillance is nothing new — especially when it comes to the TSA, since it’s essentially what they do. Harrington noted specifically that he did understand the need for surveillance and how it could actually provide security for the employees, however, it’s still a double-edged sword. More often than not, supervisors use surveillance footage to mine employees for infractions.

Michael McCarthy, a TSA spokesman, told The Atlantic that he is aware of the fairly fast and high turnover rate of TSA employees, attributing it to “low pay and high stress.” Yet, Harrington claims otherwise. “If they trusted us, respected us, you could really enjoy the job,” said Harrington. “But they didn’t.”

Thus, according to Boston University sociologist, Michel Anteby, begins a “vicious cycle” in which TSA employees channel their efforts into staying under the radar and evading the watchful eye of their supervisors, who in turn respond by intensifying surveillance measures even further.

Actually, under observation, it was found that TSA employees “wasted countless hours finding clever ways to evade the surveillance camera’s roving eye.” Other studies show that excessive surveillance, while still keeping employees “in line” on the surface, can actually increase stress, make employees feel more alienated in the workplace and decrease overall job satisfaction. TSA employees already encounter a considerable amount of stress, perhaps the eye in the sky does have something to do with that high turnover rate.

Featured image by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

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